Posts Tagged ‘Taschen’

Blackpaint 86

March 14, 2010

Barnett Newman

I can’t leave this idea of the painting “painting itself ” (see previous blogs on Ofili et al., nos. 45 – 49, and 83)).  Now I’ve come across it in a quote from BN in the Taschen “Abstract Expressionism” book by Barbara Hess: ” I began these paintings eight years ago the way I begin all my paintings – by painting…..It is as I work that the work itself begins to have an effect on me.  Just as I affect the canvas, so does the canvas affect me.”  OK, so it’s not totally a matter of the artist as a sort of passive applicator but a dual process – a bit from the artist, a bit from the painting and so on.  Even the ones who work from sketches (Kline, Hartung) produce the sketches by the means of “automatic writing”, that Surrealist conceit of the artist’s subconscious doing the work by guiding the hand.

What strikes me is the difference between the work of the various artists – you could hardly find more differing styles than those of Newman, Kline, Hartung and Ofili, yet they have all made strikingly similar comments about the nature of painting as they experience it.  Of course, this probably just means that I’m saying something extremely banal…

Nathalie Djurberg

Again from Taschen, this time “100 Contemporary Artists”, the most superfluous explanation of a title: “ in Tiger Licking Girl’s Butt (2004), in which, as the title implies, a tiger compulsively licks a girl’s behind.”  Interesting use of the word “implies” here.  Incidentally, no danger to either tiger or girl involved, since they are both clay models, used for animation by the above artist.

Final Version (I think) of “Ain’t Seen No Whiskey”:

And Version 1 of “Untitled, March 13th, 3.00am”

So called, because that’s when I did it, after a long dinner party involving a surfeit of anchovies and a ukelele.  Definitely had seen some whiskey on this occasion.

Read on over the next few entries “to see how the dialogue between the painting and myself develops”.

Listening to Dick Gaughan again, the “Green Linnet” (Napoleon, of course):

“I have roamed through the deserts of wild Abyssinia and could yet find no cure for my pain;

I’ll go and enquire at the isle of Saint Helena – but soft whispers murmur, ’tis vain.

Come tell me ye critics, come tell me in time,

What nations I must roam, my green linnet to find.

Was he slain at Waterloo, in France or on the Rhine?  No, he’s dead on Saint Helena’s bleak shore”

Blackpaint, Sunday evening coming down.

Blackpaint 36

January 12, 2010


I finally managed to get to the pub where my paintings were on show today, to take them down, a week late.  As I was loading them into the car, the next painter turned up with his work wrapped in a towel, just like mine.  We exchanged pleasantries.  Well over a month on show, and I’ve sold just two.  Still, I’ve got a few still up in another pub and another lot going up in another pub next Thursday.

It’s funny to have them back home again – they look fresher and brighter somehow, more interesting than I’d thought; I suppose it’s just that they are new to me again.

Attacked that pastel ice cream abortion last night with great swathes of dirty grey, blood red and slashes of black.  It doesn’t look pastel anymore!  Stuck it on the wall and surprised to see it looks great from the right hand side, looking in from the hallway.  From the front it looks shit, unfortunately.

From the Taschen Abstract Art, found the argument that an abstract painting is more “authentic” than a figurative one – in the sense that a figurative picture is only a representation of reality, can never be more than a copy, and hence a fiction, whereas an abstract painting is the real thing; the colours, shapes, marks are themselves, not representations (unless you think they are representations of your inner self, emotions and suchlike).  I assume this is old hat for those who have been to art school or done courses in art history, but it’s a new idea, or rather, new expression of an old idea for me.

Listened to Eisenhower Blues, by JB Lenoir, and Finlandia and 2nd Symphony, Sibelius.  I have to say that at times it reminded me of film music, a touch melodramatic – but then, so does Mahler, here and there ( his 2nd, the Resurrection,  in particular).



Blackpaint 18

December 17, 2009

I’ve hung the stripy one on the wall and have managed to convince myself that it’s not as bad as I’d thought.  Lots of orange and red patches with a significant area of smooth, flat olive green at the top.  Now it looks just a little like a really bad, roughly painted Patrick Heron (contradiction in terms, I suppose).

Bad Heron

I started another in dark blues, blacks and dark greens last night, but have lost my nerve and overpainted big areas in reds, ochre, and light greys, so that now it looks like others I have done, only with the colours drained of life.  Done my usual trick of scarring it with charcoal swipes and heavy black sweeps, to give it “gravitas”.  As I look around my room, with my canvases stacked against the walls and bookshelves, I realise that I’m copying myself – but badly.


I’ve got that “30,000 years of art” book that Taschen brought out last year; was doing drawings of the contents, but only made it up to 710 BC before flagging.  Looking at the drawings, I think William Boyd would have little trouble deciding why I am a non-figurative painter.

However, I mention it because I have found the Chinese drawings and paintings.  Always few colours, many tones.  Greys, luminous bronze tones, brilliant whites (for example, flying cranes), dramatic black sweeps.  All I need to do is to pare down my palette, put in less stuff, that is, fewer marks on canvas – and acquire a bit of good taste.

Must stop as “Curb” is about to come on.

Listening to Emmylou Harris, “From Boulder to Birmingham”.

“The last time I felt like this, I was in the wilderness,

And the canyon was on fire”.